Those crazy waterfalls

Olafur Eliasson’s “Waterfalls,” which graced the East River from June 26 to Oct. 13, generated an estimated economic impact of $69 million, exceeding the initial estimate of $55 million, the Bloomberg administration announced on Tuesday. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the first deputy mayor, Patricia E. Harris, provided a breakdown of the estimated impact, which included the costs of the exhibition:

  • $15.5 million in direct spending on the exhibition’s total presentation, including building materials, construction, operation, disassembly and promotional and educational materials.
  • An estimated $26.3 million in incremental spending by the 1.4 million visitors to the show.
  • An estimated $26.8 million in “indirect spending from these expenditures.”

The work, commissioned by the Public Art Fund and presented in collaboration with the city, was the city’s most ambitious public art project since “The Gates,” the February 2005 installation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who festooned Central Park with saffron-colored fabric.

We always knew the Waterfalls was going to reinvigorate our City’s waterfront — but its actual impact has exceeded our expectations,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference at the Public School 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, Queens, where he was joined by other officials and by Klaus Biesenbach, chief curatorial adviser at P.S. 1. “People didn’t buy tickets or pass through a turnstile to experience the Waterfalls, but this exhibition brought people to areas of the city they might not otherwise ever have visited. We’ve always understood that we have to encourage big, bold projects that set our City apart, and this will be increasingly important while areas of our economy are struggling from the turmoil on Wall Street.”

The city described other economic findings in a news release:

“Waterfalls” visitors saw the exhibition from an average of 2.6 sites around New York Harbor’s waterfront. Hundreds of thousands of others viewed the Waterfalls during their daily commutes or as part of other routine activities. Of these 1.4 million “Waterfalls” viewers, about 79,200 were visitors to the City who, were it not for the Waterfalls, would not have visited or extended their visit to New York. About 590,000 visitors came to the city from elsewhere in the metropolitan area, from communities across the U.S. and from at least 55 other countries. According to the report, 15 percent of “Waterfalls” viewers who stayed in a hotel chose a hotel in Lower Manhattan. Less than 7 percent of New York City’s hotel rooms are in Lower Manhattan, suggesting that those visitors disproportionately chose Lower Manhattan hotels over others in the city.

Over all, according to the survey, 23 percent of Waterfalls viewers – more than 320,000 people – made their first trip to the Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn waterfront to see the Waterfalls. According to the survey, 44,500 New Yorkers made their first trip to the Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn waterfront to see the Waterfalls.

-The New York Times

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